At the end of December I traveled to Norway. I found a direct flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida (FLL) to Oslo, Norway (OSL) for less than $500 round trip thanks to my Hopper app. I flew out and got to Oslo around 1 pm (Oslo time). I took the train and got to my hotel (Oslo: SmartHotel) to drop of my things and put on some extra layers to get exploring. Luckily I was staying close to city center and did not have to go far. I had been to Oslo before so this was more of a wandering situation. I visited the Nationaltheateret (National Theater), Aker Brygge (a pier area with restaurants, ferries that depart year-round for the scenic Oslo Fjord, the Nobel Peace Center, and the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art), Akershus Fortress, and finally the Opera House (that you can walk onto the roof of). It was recommended to me to go to the Vulkan area for dinner. It’s less touristy and cheaper. I ended up at BAR Vulkan which was a trendy place that seemed to have a “tapas” like theme. I got the salmon, which was pretty fresh (obviously!!!) and delicious and it ended up being about $16 for the meal (which is CHEAP for Norway). Then it was off to bed to catch up on some sleep and prepare for a long day.
On Day 2 I started my journey with Norway in a Nutshell which is a self-guided tour that you pick the cities you want to visit, the number of days you want to spend in each city, and how to get there. It included a detailed itinerary, fjord cruise, and options for hotels at each place. The day started off with a scenic (very scenic-including sunrise) train ride on the Bergen Railway (one of the most scenic rides in Europe). While on the train I got a Norwegian hotdog (with cheese inside) which are all the rage there. And I have to say, it was pretty good. I should mention I brought plenty of snacks and protein bars because everything is SO expensive and Norway isn’t particularly known for the food. We arrived in Mydral and switched to the Flam Railway (where every tourist got off) and began our journey to Flam. This was also a scenic ride, even stopping at the frozen Kjosfossen waterfall for people to get out and take photos. Once in Flam it was time to explore. Flam is a very small, but adorable town to visit. Although I skipped it, there’s a free Flam Railway Museum if you’re interested on how it was done (which was pretty cool) but I’m more about scenery before it got dark. I didn’t have much time because there was only a few hours of daylight so I did the Brekkenfossen waterfall hike, which took about 2 hours and was pretty slippery and steep. If you have the time I would recommend taking the bus to the Stegastein viewpoint. I didn’t have time but the pictures look amazing. I took the bus to Aurland to get to my AirBNB. The AirBNB was up the hill (which I believe most houses were) and gave a great view of the town below. It was wall to wall mountains over the water.
The next morning I was able to see the view much better since it was lighter out. Wow!! And with all the fresh snow it was that much better. I walked down the hill and went to the fjord stop (like a bus stop but for boats!) and waited for my cruise to come pick me up. While waiting at the stop I started talking to a couple from California which turned out that we went to college in Florida together. What a small world!! Then it was time for the fjord cruise. It was truly breathtaking (scenery and cold wind)! Nærøyfjord, which we went through is featured on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, and I can see why. After the cruise I continued on the Norway in a Nutshell journey, taking a bus to Voss and then a train to Bergen (my new favorite city). It was New Years Eve and my new friends and I made plans to go out to dinner and drinks to celebrate. For dinner we went to Egon, which was great. Two of us got the Chopped Steak (~$30) and another one got a pizza. We all loved our meals and then it was time to drink. We ended up at Barbarista, which was one of the weirdest and most fun place to end up. The owner was also the DJ and he played such random, old music. There were collectibles hanging from the ceilings and walls, local beers, and dancing. It was quite the night! We then walked a block to Bryggen to watch fireworks. We went back to Barbarista, had a few more beers and called it a night. I was staying at the Magic Hotel which was in city center.
The next morning I went to the tourist center to pick up my Bergen card (I purchased online weeks before). This gives me access to the bus system, the funicular, and several museums. Today was more of a wandering day, I visited Bergenhus Fortress, Stolzekleiven(a view on top of the city), Bryggen, and Lille Lungegaardsvannet. I got a sandwich at 7-11 which was actually pretty good, and then met up with my new friends to say goodbye to them. After a rough nights sleep and a lot of walking around I was ready for bed.
At 830 am I walked the half a block to Folibanen which was the entrance to the funicular to get to Mount Floyen (this was included with my Bergen card). It was quite the ride up (and I was practically alone) and got to see the sun rising as I made it to the top. I think I ended up taking a million photos at the top because it was phenomenal with the sunrise and being at the top of the city. Then it was time to hike the mountain. I had a plan for trails, but couldn’t really find what I had planned so just flowed some signs for trails. It just got prettier and prettier and I loved hiking up there, although I don’t think my nose ever stopped running from the cold. I spent a few hours up there, but was frozen and it was time to come down. On the way down it was PACKED on the ride coming up and I knew my early timing paid off (especially with the sunrise). I met some people from Australia and we got to talking about travel and I recommended some places in Bergen to see and they told me about must sees in Australia. Then I took the airport bus (free with my Bergen card) and got to the Bergen airport. I took my two hour flight to Tromso. I took the bus to my hotel and went right to bed (since it was already 1 am). I stayed at Skansen Hotel which wasn’t all that amazing, but it was a bed.
On my last full day in Norway (which was a LONG one). I had booked a tour through Viator (which I use all the time for excursions and highly recommend) for a Husky Sled ride through Tromso safari. We met at a hotel and took a 45 minute bus ride to the place. We had a 30 minute lesson on how to operate the sleds and it was time to ride. It was a really cool experience, the dogs were so friendly, the scenery was amazing, and it was fun also. After the ride we went into a heated tent for some delicious snacks and hot chocolate. Then it was back to the hotel. I got another 7-11 sandwich, then took the few free hours I had in Tromso to just wonder around the center. Then I went to another hotel to meet my northern lights tour guide that I booked through Arctic Adventures. We drove for awhile, having to go slow because of snow and ice. Our guide explained that the KP index was high, but we had to get to a place (further north) where there was no cloud coverage. He was very knowledgeable and my dream of seeing the Northern Lights came true. It was so great to see them and use my new camera to photograph them. He also showed us how to set up our cameras to capture them. What an experience! So we got back to our hotels but it was not until 4 am because of the long drive back. That sure made for a long travel day a few hours later, but it was totally worth it.